It is confusing certainly – but what you have to realize it there isn’t much difference between trying harder to please God and trusting more because you love God. Religion is full of a Do Do Do Do, try harder, God Look what I am doing type of performance. It’s SPELLED DO. You try and hope you DO enough to catch God’s attention and if your good outweighs your bad, you get to enter heaven. IS that true? Well, think of a court of law. You are guilty of heinous crimes, like murder. Can you tell the Judge, “well Judge, yes I murdered 3 people, but look at the millions I didn’t murder. And Judge, I went to church and got baptized, and gave money to the poor. Surely, I did more good than bad.” Today the justice system is messed up, but really, you are only going to be judged by your crimes by an HONEST Judge. And an Honest Judge can’t be bought or forget about your crimes. In Jesus economy Hatred is MURDER.
Real Christianity is Spelled DONE. It is not you trying to get God’s attention – it is God getting yours. It is not you trying to jump high enough to get to God. It is God knowing you could never reach him, even if you had a rocket ship or built a tower to heaven, so GOD had to come down to you.
Yet Jesus said, IF you love me keep my commandments. Yet Paul says, How can I know Sin but by the LAW?
It seems to be God saying two different things – keep them and you can’t keep them. Which is it?
My belief which I think is scriptural is it is not possible to KEEP THEM by TRYING to keep them. That seems counter-intuitive, an oxymoron, a conundrum – but the Pharisees were FAR MORE obedient to the LETTER of the LAW than any of us – and did Jesus say to them TRY HARDER? No.
Jesus said to us Except your righteousness exceed that of the Pharisees you will not enter the kingdom of heaven – To the MOST religious commandment-keeping people who ever lived, the Pharisees, Jesus said “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” Luke 13:28. Jesus said to the ones trying the hardest to do good works FOR God that even the sinners and prostitutes will be in heaven instead of you. WHAT???
So it is eternally critical we understand the difference between FRUIT and WORKS. Works for salvation don’t do anything — FRUITS OF salvation are what Jesus promises, but ONLY IF WE REMAIN IN HIM. We have nothing to boast about.
God gave me a sports illustration to explain this. First, we don’t choose the devil’s team – we are born on it. That is why JESUS said YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN. WE need to be traded to God’s team – and then anything on God’s team “counts” and anything we did on the “devil’s team” doesn’t count. Think of a great goal scorer – he scored 500 goals for another team and then he gets traded to your team and scores 10. Those 500 goals don’t count on your teams stats and they likely helped your team lose if he scored any against you. Only what he did once on your team helped your team. God does talk about rewards in heaven but also warns about people who did many wonderful works but Jesus said, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.” If a 500-goal score stayed on the Devil’s team, his “works” don’t mean anything and actually he was scoring AGAINST God’s team. Only at the point after being traded does his accomplishments mean anything and start qualifying him for any post-season accolades. And the reality is once you are God’s team, if you happen to earn any big trophies or medals, you want to give them to Jesus anyway. He is like the Pro Hockey player feeding his son passes on the ice against a team of Pee-Wee players – you know he wanted to involve you in the game but really he could score without you and he just wanted to share some of the joys with you. You are thankful he set you up for that game winning goal — you are not about to brag all night how great a goal you scored when the puck was shot right at your stick and bounced in.
All I am saying is once you are saved, you really realize anything good that comes out of you is JESUS anyway, and you see yourself for the Pharisee, the old man, the addicted self, whatever you would be without JESUS delivering you from that. The Mad Man of Gaderra knew who set him free and he had no shame giving the credit to JESUS. He could have been to counselors for years, and taken every phych med available and had graduated from great programs that helped him deal with the rejections of his past, but it was JESUS whom he knew without a doubt changed his life. Those that are truly saved are not in awe of themselves. They are in awe of JESUS.
So many folks who do something, like sabbath keeping, have this attitude of “Have I done enough for JESUS ?” and they either never feel saved/ accepted by God if they don’t do enough – or haughty and better than folks if they are able to “keep the commandments.”
If that is you, know I am not attacking – these are hard truths and there is a TON of confusion and debate. But we need to understand the simplicity AND FREEDOM in Christ.
Someone asked why Jesus seems to preach one message and Paul seemed to preach another. The person was attacking Paul’s message of Grace essentially.
If you read the gospels you will see Jesus raises the bar for what is required “to please God”- the Pharisees did more religious works than anything you could ever do- and Jesus said the harlots and publicans will enter heaven before them. The law is not a goal – but reveals our need for salvation. Jesus raises the bar so high- “go and sell all you have”- “if you call your brother fool you are worthy of hell Fire. If your eye causes you to sin pluck it out. If you look with lust you committed adultery already.” The point is this is to bring us to our knees and see our NEED for a Savior. Religion is “thank God I am not like so-and-so.”
So much of our version of Christianity can still fall into that trap- and that is why you have so many saying you have to keep the Sabbath – or you have to call Jesus by his Hebrew name with a Aramaic accent or he won’t hear you- or you have to show your worthiness by enduring the tribulation like they can. If there is any belief we deserve any of this- it’s pride.
Jesus came not to save the righteous but sinners to repentance. So much of religion- and our churchianity – is still the same trying-harder self-righteousness that God hates.
Man’s pride still wants to be something and now we think we can obey the Bible in our own strength and please God.
You cannot please God apart from faith- and the closer you get to God the more you see your need and the more sinful you will see yourself.
You will be in awe of Jesus and thankful you aren’t headed for hell and will have a servant type of attitude and a willingness for God to lead you and use you.
It is not trying BUT trusting- it’s not trying to keep the commandments to please God.
It’s yielding and getting out of the way and knowing it is actually not difficult to live the Christian life- it is impossible to live the Christian life.
You can’t live the Christian life – stop trying. And if you could you would think you deserve salvation.
Instead, admit it and come to Jesus and let him live it through you.
This shouldn’t be so confusing the Internet and deception today has every wind of doctrine coming at you.
There isn’t a lot of difference between TRYING and TRUSTING- but it is the difference between being a DISCIPLE (who is trusting) and a Pharisee.